Hibiscus lovers around the world know the name of Texas A&M AgriLife’s Dariusz Malinowski, Ph.D., who has earned his place as a renowned hardy hibiscus breeder.
The City of Vernon ensured Malinowski will forever be celebrated for his research at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon by declaring Nov. 30 as Dr. Dariusz Malinowski Day. The honor coincides with the National Garden Bureau’s declaration of 2021 as The Year of the Hardy Hibiscus.
Malinowski, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant physiologist and breeder, leads the forage and ornamental plant breeding program, focusing on perennial cool-season forage grasses and hardy hibiscus at Vernon.
“Dr. Malinowski is well-deserving of the adulation his hibiscus breeding is receiving,” said Rick Vierling, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M AgriLife center at Vernon. “In 10 years, he built the world’s top hardy hibiscus program. Three years ago, he started a tropical hibiscus breeding program and has just licensed his first tropical. In the very near future, his tropical program will be No. 1 too.”
At the Nov. 30 celebration, Mayor Pam Gosline announced the day dedicated to Malinowski and read a Texas Senate resolution proclamation recognizing his work as well as the efforts of the City of Vernon to be declared the Hibiscus Capital of Texas.
Malinowski started breeding hardy hibiscus plants in his yard as a hobby. In 2010, his hibiscus breeding program became an official part of the Texas A&M AgriLife center in Vernon and has gone on to produce award-winning winter-hardy hibiscus hybrids.
His program goal has been to produce a wide range of new shapes and novel colors. These have included a blue flowering winter-hardy hibiscus hybrid as well as a maroon, salmon, magenta and a number of dual or multicolored flowers on a single plant.
Since 2010, he has:
— Created and evaluated over 20,000 winter-hardy hibiscus hybrids.
— Disclosed 487 unique lines to the Texas A&M Technology Commercialization office, which makes these lines available for licensing by plant wholesalers worldwide to sell to the public.
— Had wholesale nurseries evaluate over a hundred of the unique lines.
— Developed nine cultivars brought to market by J. Berry Nursery under the trade name Summer Spice Hibiscus. These cultivars are sold to the public at garden centers and nurseries around the country.
Editor's note: Watch for more details on hibiscus breeding programs at J. Berry Nursery in our January cover story.